Bil Browning

Biden and Palin on LGBT relationships

Filed By Bil Browning | October 03, 2008 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, same-sex marriage, Sarah Palin, vice president, vice presidential debates, VP

Both of the vice presidential candidates were asked a question about benefits for gay couples and whether or not they supported same-sex marriage. Biden supports domestic partner benefits which prompted Palin to defend "the traditional definition of marriage." She mouthed tolerance while using all of the right wing code words and Biden span around trying to justify his support of benefits when he doesn't support same-sex marriage.

So who do you think won the debate? This question was a draw.

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Without getting into specifics, overall I'd say the debate was a draw. (Since both sides are the pits with gay issues, I'll choose who to vote for on who I agree with on other issues).

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 3, 2008 8:39 AM

The "holy grail" of either "civil unions' or "marriage" is federal recognition of the rights of the spouse to do a heck of a lot more than visit in a hospital or sign a joint contract. It involves care, therapy, and eventually "final decisions" which is the greatest single reason we have moved to Thailand.

In involves survivor benefits from Social Security for minor children raised by a Gay couple.

It involves parity with the SSI survivor benefits that would go to a spouse to raise those children.

It involves a clear definition of property ownership with registered partners and the same tax free right of survivorship so that either a partner has security or a family has a home.

The definition of "traditional marriage" has already changed and our Straight friends are too hypocritical to admit it. Changes in the law that protect us would protect them in more cases. I watched the debate on CNN and they had a response meter from uncommitted voters. When this segment was discussed there was no great support of Gay people. We are at the table, but we are the poor relative.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II.
If I get all the same rights as other people, but because I'm a lesbian and a transsexual they want to label them different, I would care less? F--k no! Those rights would still smell as sweet.

Palin was nothing more than talking points and Alaskan down-home witticisms, with about as much substance as a cubic foot of outer space. Joe Biden pointed out the failings of the past that McCain wants to be doomed to repeat on purpose, or just ignores all together. Palin proved that her and McCain don't wish to learn from the past and she chastised Biden for learning from it. How sad are they?

I won't answer questions I know nothing about. Instead, I want to talk about the lack of experience I have in energy. Sure, Sarah. Yack away.

By the way, Sarah, oil is called a "fossil fuel" because it was created by the decaying and compression of carbon-based life forms that died HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, you know, like the dinosaurs. So much for being an "expert" on energy. ("Expert" - "ex" is a has-been and a [s]pert is a drip under pressure.)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 3, 2008 12:33 PM

Monica, I do love your energy.

candace mitchell | October 10, 2008 3:58 PM


I agree with you about marriage vs. benefits. I believe that a marriage is what your believe it to be. I see marriages with people that don't live together, people who sleep with other people, psuedo servants, etc. I don't think that any of that matters. I think of my partner as my wife. No matter if there is a certificate or not. I just want the rights or a partnership.

If any one cares: Here is my solution. Marriage is deemed between a man and a women primarily based on religious standards. Therefore (because of seperation of church and state), let the churches decide what their definition is. But, the government (state and federal) have a domestic partner registry. Everyone, married of not can have a domestic partner. This partner is granted benefit rights.

This solution takes care of three groups. 1) Gays and Lesbians 2) common-law marriages, 3) Mormons (they can be married to multiple women, yet only register one partner, again not mixing church and state).

Let me know what you think about this one.

And finally, I would challenge all the LBGT voters out there that are looking at voting records to look at Palin's veto on a ban of same-sex benefits. She may not like us....but she voted for our rights.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 3, 2008 8:42 AM

Who cares?

It's Clone Wars round two.

Paleolithic Palin vs. the Senator from Bank of America.

Nor matter who wins, we lose, and that's a fact.

We keep fixating on the few examples Obama and Biden cite then stop listening to what else they say. Obama has said many times in the past and last night Biden reinforced:

"Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple." "It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it."

"absolutely no distinction" means a lot more to me than just the few talking points they use as examples. This is our, not most of mainstream America's, issue. In every speech on SSM Obama and Biden cannot address every Federal benefit that we want to hear.

Biden also stated using the word marriage "is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it."

A nice compromise. There are many faiths that perform same-sex marriages. Therefore if my partner and I have a ceremony in a gay affirming house of worship we will be married.

Whether our relationship is called a civil union or a marriage we will have full Federal recognition and benefits.

Oh Dianne....if it makes no difference, then why oh why oh why did we ever get rid of the "colored only" drinking fountains?

I can tell you why - because the separate drinking fountains were dirty, provided less water and the designated an acceptance of unequal treatment to a population of citizens.

This clip ends with Palin and Biden agreeing that they have the same position even though Biden talked about the Constitutional reasons that there ought to be no distinction between married couples before he said (what he MUST say...alas...the unfortunate victim of political timidity that Democrats always are) that the Constitution doesn't mean a thing when it comes to marriage.

It was the moment when it was hard to distinguish between Palin and Biden. Neither of them made any sense when they talked about same sex marriage and guess what - everyone noticed - allies and opponents alike.

They aren't fooling anyone.

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | October 4, 2008 6:30 PM

And might I remind everyone what happened in California: Once civil unions are in place, all it takes is a Supreme Court ruling that "separate but equal" won't fly.

Here's what I sent to Twitter (and therefore posted to my Facebook status) last night right after this part aired...

How nice to see they can agree on something. They agree that my family isn't as good as theirs. Fuck them both on that one.

But, Bil, isn't it refreshing and comforting to know that they both want us to be able to visit our contracted partner in the hospital after they have been declared brain dead in the emergency room?

Just think, we could be as lucky as Joe Biden was after the tragedy that struck his family.

You mean to tell me that even if you got 100% of all the rights as opposite sex couples have that you would still want to quibble over a label? And I thought trans people were hung up on labels. I bow to thee.

I should clarify, MonciaHelms.

I absolutely adore labels. They mean everything to me. I am gay. I am a man. I am a Democrat. I am an American. I am a husband to another man but only in California (and NY and MA) at least for now but maybe not after November 4 depending on whether or not my fellow citizens think that the state constitution applies to me which it might not because of the label I applied to myself...or was it applied to me...I can't remember....where was I???

Oh, that's right, MonicaHelms...I was clinging to was all my idea. I lose track sometimes. Thanks for helping me see the light.

You are too funny, Patrick. Yes, we have more labels on us then on cans in grocery stores. Some we embrace, and others get attached to us, whether we want them or not. But, regardless of what labels that are on you, or you accept for you, the person next to you at night loves your soul. Does he care what you label yourself, as long as he can hold you at night and give you his love.

If the federal government recognized your relationship as equal to other "legally recognized" relationships, but decided not to label it "marriage," then you're saying that your partner will love you less? Will he have an easier time to "divorce" you if it's not called "marriage?" I doubt it. If you are legally recognized as a committed couple, do you think your relatives will have an easier time taking your assets away from your partner if you died? Not quite.

So, if the label "marriage" is so important, then explain to me how it differs from the "civil union" label, if both would give you the exact equal rights? Can any gay person who has a problem with the label "civil union" really explain why the label "marriage" is so important? If it doesn't affect your love for each other and all the benefits you get, then I am at a loss at understanding why this is such a big deal.

By-the-way, In had an article on Bilerico in the past that talked about labels, though I cannot find it right now. It is a subject I have studied a lot about because of how trans people get so hung up on them. To me, this is no different.

I can't take the time to answer you right now, Monica. The answer to your question is a very long one. There are numerous historical examples - both judicial and legislative - that explain why it makes a difference to create a separate institution to extend an existing right to a minority group of individuals.

The conversation about labels isn't a good application in a conversation about marriage vs civil unions because the uses are different.

They are related certainly, but the application is different. Categorizing people by behavior and appearance presents a number of problems and categorizing citizens using the same standards creates a different level of prejudice.

I agree that both are usually detrimental - especially to the party being labeled. Legislative labeling does quantifiable harm. Societal labeling is much easier to challenge.

There's the rub. We won't get all the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities as our straight counterparts without our partnerships being called marriage and our partners called spouses. Now if you are advocating a change to the entire federal code, tax code, state law, state tax codes to reflect spouse or domestic partner and marriage or civil union, I agree, "what's in a name?"

That was what I was getting at. Total equality, tax codes and everything. Anything less than total equality and I am there with everyone else making sure they call it "marriage" so it would be equal. I only want to see the equality. The name is only important if they try to short change LGBT people with something less.

Also, Bil, while I was in the shower I had an epiphany.

I chided Biden and Palin for their courageous support of hospital visitation rights for same sex couples by speaking of his experience with tragedy, hospitals and family.

My comparison was not fair. Biden didn't visit his partner in the hospital - he was visiting his children. Is that something we to ask permission to do?

Would Biden or Palin allow us to visit our children in the hospital like Biden did - even if the biological parent were dead?

Maybe they shouldn't talk about might make us sound like humans.

I was disappointed to hear that Biden doesn't support (state sponsored) same sex marriage, especially after he spent as much time as he did talking about how important it is to grant civil rights to LGBT people, focusing on just hospital visitation probably because of time, and emphasizing that these are constitutional rights (I'm guessing he's referring either to the due process clause or the equal protection clause. Biden is a former chair of the senate judiciary committee, unlike Palin, who can't name a single supreme court case she disagrees with.) And then after saying this, he said that he doesn't support same sex marriage, so that his position is functionally equivalent to Palin's, the only difference being that Palin put her opposition to it in terms to appease the right, and Biden put his opposition to it in terms to appease the left. Still, I think that Biden sounds like he takes LGBT rights a lot more seriously than Palin does (even if not as much as I would like him to.)

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | October 3, 2008 10:16 AM

I kept wondering if Palin was having eye problems or if she was thought the constant winking was an effective campaign strategy.

Somehow I don't think Putin is going to be intimidated by Ms Congeniality come hither looks.

CBrachyrhynchos | October 3, 2008 11:19 AM

Until the Democrats support full marriage equality, I'm sending my money and time on groups that do.

Personally, I could care less about marriage. I am pretty sure that I will Never find a man that I would want to marry, and here in Texas, I can marry the woman of my dreams, though I do have to go to northern San Antonio to do it.

Yes, that is selfish of me, but what the hey, I have gotten enough guff from mainstream gay groups for being a tranny that I am feeling a bit put out about it anyway.

For the most part, if you have a good family lawyer, and make the proper preparations, many of the minor 'rights' of marriage can be codified into a contract.

We have to look at practicalities. For the most part, there has to be a sea change in the point of view of most americans before full marriage equality on the national level can even be considered. There have been minor sucesses in some of the more liberal parts of the country, but until Joe-sixpack finally decides that fags are human too, it will never happen in the heartland or "fly over" country. The more sucess we have, the harder the opposition becomes. It is not a matter of fairness, it is a matter of respect for tradition. At least that is how most people see it.

(hehe this should start a firestorm) ;-)

Biden's response on marriage was disappointing. But overall, I think he won the debate going away. Even though he was more low key than Palin, he did a good job tying McCain to failed Bush policies, and scored several big points in which he proved Palin a liar.

It was interesting to note that the CNN groups of uncommitted voters also gave him the victory.

Biden came so close to saying what I think should be done, "absolutely no distinction... between a same-sex and heterosexual couple," and marriage "is a decision to be left to your faith" and not to be dealt with on the "civil side".

The logical conclusion here, which he doesn't bring it to and probably doesn't support, is to get the government out of the business of marriage. "Absolutely no distinction" includes the separate but equal labels. That means that if queers get civil unions, so do straights. Marriage can be a religious institution solely -- and if you want to get married there are plenty of religious institutions that already perform marriages of any genders.

Separate but unequal is a real problem for trans people because it further institutionalizes gender requirements for relationship recognition. If you can marry someone of the opposite sex or get a civil union with someone of the same sex, then either way you go someone could still argue that you're not the sex you said you were and get the relationship recognition dissolved.

In California, they've gotten rid of gender requirements on marriage applications -- which is great. While here in Oregon, if you want a domestic partnership you have to prove you're the same gender as your partner, and that can be tricky for folks with inconsistent gender documentation.

At first I thought O shit Joe's in trouble because of Palins confidence and somewhat lucid beginning.Then as time progressed she sounded more and more like a broken record stuck on a John McCain section.I noticed she either didn't understand or chose to just ignore the question about what they thought was their achilles heel.In the end I thought Biden could have been a little more aggressive without crossing any lines but either way she lost the debate in a big way.I think as time passes and people digest the debate and the little snippets they show on Tv they'll come to realize just how bad she really did.

I'm choosing to address their answers on gay marriage separately as I don't believe it changed the outcome other than for us as lgbt.One thing that is important to note is that Joe Biden basically said that we have a constitutional right to have our relationships recognized in a way thats equal to marriage.Now here's where Palin screwed up she said they agreed on gay marriage.Does that mean she as a conservative understands by not recognizing our relationships legally as equal to marriage at the federal level not only is it a violation of our rights it is a violation of the oath of office and should be viewed as at the very least an impeachable offense? Does that mean that she thinks all the states that passed constitutional amendments that banned not only same sex marriage but civil unions were over reaching? Personally I support a long term goal of achieving same sex marriage but I question the wisdom of pushing to hard for it now when civil union could probably be achieved much quicker with far less fallout.I think a wise plan for the future would be to support California's and Massachussetts same sex marriage laws but to push for federal recognition of civil unions.Let time work and I bet that after a while other states will seek to have legal gay marriage and the resistance will be far less .Civil rights take time pushing to hard to quick might harm us more than help us in the long run.

Bill: We disagree with the one thing that both candidates avoided like the plague--actually announcing their intentions in reference to gay marriage--either way. It's unfortunate that Republicans, who consider themselves conservative, thus enamored of the Constitution in its original form and intent, are only interested in their personal interpretation of it. And Democrats know it would be political suicide to announce how they really feel about gay marriage, that it's unconstitutional and basically stupid to deny such fundamental rights to anyone. Let's hope that once Obama is in office he'll have the courage to foster such a change.

Byron, "Democrats know it would be political suicide to announce how they really feel about gay marriage, that it's unconstitutional and basically stupid to deny such fundamental rights to anyone."

Ah, the question is: How do they really feel?

Don't assume they agree with the second part of your statement. There is little evidence to rely upon that would lead anyone to think that way. If we want to extend that faith to the Dems then I guess we ought to have the same faith that McCain feels the same way, but is equally unable to state his support.

Don't make excuses for them, either.

I wish that for once someone would ask a difficult question on the topic instead of the stupid ones that always get repeated allowing candidates to say nothing.

It would have been more revealing for them to be asked to explain which proposed amendment on this fall's ballot suits their view point of the status of LGBT citizens in America - Florida or California - or neither?

One eliminates all relationship recognition and the other only seeks to overturn the Supreme Courts opinion that LGBT citizens should also be granted equal protections.

This topic is always such a softball toss that the answers no longer disappoint me as much as the question. No one understands a fucking thing about it, do they?

Ah, the question is: How do they really feel?

We Straight Democrats have never done anything to show that we can be trusted.

African-Americans and atheists don't trust us either. With good reason. Or they'd better not. We lose attention and wander off. Jesse Helms could be trusted to be a monster. Every damn time, 24/7. I don't know what Biden and Obama and Pelosi can be trusted to do.

My friends on the left and I need to stop being so reasonable. If we don't stand up for what we know is right we might as well be standing up for what we know is wrong.

Ah, the question is: How do they really feel?

We Straight Democrats have never done anything to show that we can be trusted.

African-Americans and atheists don't trust us either. With good reason. Or they'd better not. We lose attention and wander off. Jesse Helms could be trusted to be a monster. Every damn time, 24/7. I don't know what Biden and Obama and Pelosi can be trusted to do.

My friends on the left and I need to stop being so reasonable. If we don't stand up for what we know is right we might as well be standing up for what we know is wrong.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 4, 2008 7:26 AM

Democrats aren’t part of the left. They’re political orphans paralyzed by election year hype. They uncritically hope that real differences between the two parties on key questions. They're wrong. .

Unarguable Facts. Both parties supported DOMA, and Clinton was the most enthusiastic of all of them. He boasted about it.

Both candidates support a Dixiecrat style position of ‘states rights’ on the question of GLBT marriage, and since most states have DOMAs, and in the absence of a federal partnership law including full equality, both candidates oppose equality. No such law is proposed by either candidate and the chances of Congress passing such a law are nil.

Both parties supported the rape of ENDA and ditching our hate crimes bill.

Voting for either candidate or either party is voting for inequality.

Unarguable Facts. The same bipartisan support was demonstrated when they deregulated S&Ls under Carter and predatory banks and mortgage holders under Clinton, who was again the chief cheerleader for the right. And it was demonstrated this week when they put us $700 in debt to cover the losses of the predatory rich.
Voting for either candidate is a vote to suppress our standard of living even further.

Unarguable Facts. Both candidates will continue the war and both have promised escalations. The war is genocide for oil.

Voting for either candidate is a vote to suppress our standard of living even further.

Staying in the Democratic Party cut ‘leftists’ from the only people and movements that can produce real change the; militant, independent, massive, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer movements. They’re the vehicles we’ll ride to victory and won’t it be nice for a change not to be thrown under the bus everytime we turn around. For GLBT folks the Democrats are the last the last closet, the political closet, and we’ll begin to win when enough people kick that door out and begin our own independent struggle.

To paraphrase Debs, it's better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it. Much better.

I Officiate Marriages, Civil Unions, and Domestic partnerships in NY, NYC, and New Jersey. In Civil Union vs Marriage, Marriage wins! New Jersey has Civil Unions. It was supposed to be exactly the same rights as Marriage but it is not! I am Legally Married to My SO! We have all the legal rights! Some of our "Gay" friends have Civil Unions, their employers (with only one exception) will not give them Insurance to cover their Civil Union Partners. A poll was taken in New Jersey and a large majority of the Civil Unions have said " Civil Unions are not equal to Marriage in the State of New Jersey! a Grassroots effort to allow "Same Sex marriage is taking place and looks like it will be successful in the very near future! Domestic Partnerships in NY is not equal to Marriage either.